Stroll down the highways and cul-de-sacs of Tulsa, Oklahoma, today, and you will meet people who are involved in the aerospace industry, logistics, energy, health care and manufacturing of electrical equipment. While about 403,000 people call the city home today, it was not very long ago that it was a sleepy little town. Here is a little Tulsa history that you might want to know.
The historic Creek Nation in Georgia and Alabama was seized by Benjamin Perryman who moved 20,000 Creek Native Americans to the area. They quickly negotiated contracts with the Cherokee and deposited ashes from the last council fire near present-day Eighteenth Street.
Benjamin’s grandson George Perryman established a 20,000-acre where the southern part of the city is located today. On this ranch, he raised about 3,000 longhorn cattle along with the help of Creek Indians. On March 25, 1879, a post office opened on the ranch. The small farming community was called Tulsey Town in those early years. Unlike Hollywood would have you believe, the Perryman’s who were half-Creek was very gracious to everyone with George’s wife often preparing community feasts enjoyed by all. She often kept up to 30 orphans in her home.
In 1882, the Frisco Railroad arrived to help Perryman get his cattle to market easier, and the post office was moved about four miles by another of Benjamin Perryman’s grandsons who opened a mercantile store there. He was replaced by James H. Hall in 1889 When the first telephone service was initiated in the same year, there were only about 80 families in the farming community.
Fast forward just 11 years and in 1901 oil was discovered just southwest of the community. At that time, it was the largest oil find in the world, and soon many investors moved to the once sleepy community to take advantage of the black gold. The telephone directory lists more than 125 oil companies by the time that Oklahoma became a state in 1907.
Not only did many Native Americans and whites find wealth and prosperity in this city that quickly grew to be known as the oil capital of the United States, so did many black people who often settled in the Greenwood neighborhood. Many people who settled here became black multimillionaire entrepreneurs to the envy of white people surrounding them. On May 30, 1921, pastor Dick Rowland stepped onto an elevator operated by white 17-year-old Sarah Page.
No one will ever know what happened on the elevator, but Page insists that Rowland raped her. A white angry mob went to Greenwood and the result was that 300 blacks were murdered. The riots only stopped when firebombs were dropped on the neighborhood resulting in many people losing their property. Yet, within 20 years, much of the neighborhood was rebuilt without any government assistance.
Tulsa has a very colorful history. It started out as an Indian reservation with a very successful cattle ranch, grew quickly after oil was discovered and was the home of one of the worst race riots in the nation. Today, people of all colors find the city a wonderful place to call home.
Here are some things to do in Tulsa, OK